Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Indian Govt bans Bulk SMS for 72 hours

Indian Government banned sending bulk sms and mms for next 72 hours in lieu of very important Ayodhya verdict. According to some estimates, the bulk SMS business in India accounts for revenues of roughly Rs 20 crore every month.Bulk sms is a very effective and potential communication tool for many brands. This cost effective tool is being used as marketing tool by almost all major banks, corporate, brands, public services etc.

A very cost effective and direct communication medium is now banned for next 3 days; according to popular news channels' latest tweets:
@starnewslive and @ndtv. Stopping these services means, you won't get your morning news alert, your bank transaction sms, latest offer information in nearby mall and even a internal informative sms from your company (if they are using it).

On the other side, everyone knows how important is verdict about 'Ayodhya'. It's one of biggest national issue. This judgment is super sensitive in many ways, be it communal, political, cultural or historical. Surely, government is taking all steps to handle unexpected havoc after the judgment. However, I personally feel that this is more than what we can expect in a demographic country like India.

How can government cut off people from this very important communication medium? Why should all those suffer just because of Ayodhya verdict? Why should a marketer stop communicating with their audience for no reason at all? Will they ban Blogs, emailers and outbound calls, too? Are tv channels, radio stations and print next in line??

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Volkswagen breaks clutter with audio ad in today's Times of India

Ask any marketer, how tough is it to break the clutter today? Any marketer would it difficult to choose among plenty of media vehicles and ad spaces. It's never easy to choose right channel and right vehicle for your brand. But, how many times we think about quality of message? How many times we think about 'idea' behind it?

I saw a brilliant campaign in today's Times of India. Volkswagen, a German automobile manufacturer has come up with this innovative campaign in today's (21st September, 2010) . A full page advertisement on last page of TOI in any other case would never break clutter. However, Volkswagen did this with superb innovation built within advertisement.

Can you think of Audio enabled print advertisement? Can you think of a print ad that sings? Well, here it is. This full page TOI advertisement speaks!! Yes, they have attached an IR enabled light weight speaker on this advertisement and as soon as you open your paper, this light sensitive speaker starts speaking! A wonderful brand message with print ad, that would surely catch your attention! I am amazed!! Here are some pics...
As they call it 'Power of Idea', I think this is power of Idea. My friends have been tweeting and posting updates on facebook about the campaign. I am sure, people are discussing it at their workplaces and among their friends. This proves, good Idea goes beyond media vehicles and ad spaces. Such innovation can become talks of town within hours!
[Photo Courtesy: Varun Attrey]

Update 1: Just realized this campaign is also on Hindu

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Riding Himalayas - a journey to world's highest motorable road

There are various reasons why an average man heads off to the Himalayas all packed-up. He thinks he will meet a sage or for that matter someone close to say; J. Krishnamurthy or Deepak Chopra who will tell him; that the journey he has undertaken to come to them would have already taught him more about life and so they do not have much to say; or something along the lines of trying to find your ‘inner self’, which frankly can be done by sitting in the bathroom for an hour. Whatever your reasons are, having been chosen to ride on the Himalayan Odyssey, I, Tanmay Shanishchara already had my head in the clouds (metaphorically and literally).

My family was the first to know and convincing my mother that it was the most adventurous place to go to with a breathtakingly beautiful landscape was easier than I thought. My dad, however, played spoilsport and introduced my mother to the land of altitude sickness, frost bite, avalanches and other such likely possibilities. So much for having a Doctor Dad! However, after taking some medical tips and suggestions from my Dad and some repetitive ones from my mom, I prepared myself to head out to the long-awaited and much-anticipated opportunity of a lifetime.

In its seventh edition now, the Himalayan Odyssey is one of the toughest and also the most prestigious rides to tackle out there. Braving varied terrains, facing changing climatic conditions and grappling with unknown challenges, we (the riders) headed off towards our destination…something that we had been waiting for so long. However, before taking off we needed to take care of a few things so that neither our own health, nor our bike’s health, would suffer during the journey.

Having taken care of that, other things needed to be sorted out which included transporting the bike to Delhi from Mumbai. Easier said than done! Filling out forms and having all the right bike documents did not necessarily mean that the transportation of the bike would automatically be taken care of. The bike had to be checked thoroughly and documents had to be signed by the right authorities. I soon realised the formula to getting one signature from any official here was a rather simple one: Requesting + Pleading + Begging x Money - Attitude = Official signature. This promptly ensured that my bike was en route to Delhi.

After arriving in Delhi, I was subjected to a fitness test that involved a tedious 5 km run at the end of which we had to demonstrate our fitness levels by doing 50 push ups. There were some riders who I suspected would never qualify but they beat my prediction and knocked me cold by completing the assigned task. Among the 62 riders present there were a few who were over 50 years old. Watching them run the five kilometres and complete the 50 push ups told me a great deal not only about their physical capabilities but also about their mental stamina.

Later in the evening, I got to know the other riders who would be riding with me through this incredible journey. There was a discussion on the kind of gear that we ought to wear. Though this information was available on the website, it was necessary to ensure that everybody on the trip was prepared. The riding gear included riding gloves, shoes that reached the ankle, knee guards, elbow guards, a riding jacket which was water resistant, rain shoes and the most important thing; so that you don’t lose your head - the helmet. The route also was explained to us. We would be riding from Delhi - Manali - Keylong - Sarchu - Leh - Khardung La - Nubra Valley - Khardung La - Leh - Rumptse - Keylong - Kaza - Kalpa - Narkanda - Parwanoo – Delhi. The plan was to cover about 200 kms per day on an average. Every morning the leaders would guide the riders about the kind of terrain they would encounter and what kind of riding style to adopt. Even Paul, the oracle-octopus would have never predicted the outcome of this eventful journey.

The trip to Keylong was a wonderful one. Keylong is surrounded by mountains and some scenic views so much so that the distracted riders forgot to pay attention to the ever dipping fuel guages. Finally, it was an Indian Oil sign board that made us all heave a sigh of relief. The ride there was dusty and we got to know that there had been an avalanche at the pass the previous day but fortunately for us, it had been cleared and we got a clean way to reach our destination which was Sarchu.

I saw the terrain change drastically. It had been a tar road all along but gradually not only had the trees disappeared, but so had the road. It was dusty, rocky and to add to it we came across water crossings as well. The roads kept winding, getting curvier and not only were we battling for air as the altitude rose, but our combat in terms of gripping the roads had also begun. Riding through water is one part of the story, but riding through ice cold water is something that neither you nor your bike is really ready for. However, the Standard 350 Enfield stood sturdy throughout. There were some who slipped, but there were no serious injuries. The bumpy roads, and the high altitude sickness had already caught up with the riders, sometimes enfeebling them, but they seemed to find respite in brandy. Finally, I can say with conviction that there is no problem that a stiff whisky or in my case a swig of brandy can’t solve (barring a mathematical one of course). That seemed to be a panacea. The next day we headed for Leh.

I had to ride 265 kms to Leh, where the roads were bad, and the climb was challenging, to say the least. The winding roads confused us a great deal. When I manoeuvred my way with the other riders and thought that I had completed roughly 5 kms, the odometer reading would show only 2 kms and remind me that I still had 263 kms more to go. Here, towards the end of a great riding day, I managed to lose my way by taking a wrong turn. I asked for directions and was relieved to find out that I wasn’t far behind and could easily catch up with the other riders.

But there was more in store. As I turned the bike, the engine stopped and when I tried to crank up the engine, it refused to start. I did the basic checks and soon realized that my phone battery too had died on me. I was without support till 7:30 pm. There were a couple of bikers who were heading to the main road from that road and they helped me tow my bike until I got some mechanical support. Soon I was with the other riders from the group. The next day was rest day and this gave me enough time to fix my bike in Leh. Another misadventure followed. In a place with hardy any human habitation, I ended up losing my wallet. That was not such a big deal because I drew solace from the fact that whoever found my wallet would have to travel nearly 200 odd kilometres, to use it.

Every single day, once the day’s journey came to an end, the riders used to spend their hours relaxing and talking about their rides. It was during these conversations that we talked about our individual experiences. Tea in the evening and brandy post dinner brought about more than just conversations. There were stories, short and some epic in magnitude but the relaxed atmosphere in which these conversations and story-telling sessions of the riders unravelled made this trip an incredibly memorable one. Even those who called themselves “introverted” spoke, perhaps, it was the brandy doing all the talking.

The next day was the biggest day of all. We were headed to Khardungla, the highest motorable pass in the world. This had been the biggest motivation to undertake the ride and this had what kept me going. Riding upto the highest point was indeed a huge achievement and everybody who had started the ride, had made it to this point. There was a sense of satisfaction and delight at having achieved this feat. One of my co-riders, Neeraj, had fallen sick due to a change in the altitude levels and the Doctor had advised him to return, but even he had managed to join us later. All of us had made it!

Like Sisyphus’ rolling stone, we headed back on the familiar road. We did not any face any problems apart from people who managed to get water into their bikes, on the way back to Keylong. We also encountered rain during our ride from Kalpa to Narkanda. A lot of leak breaks followed but we all carried on and reached our destination.

It seemed like a mere formality now to reach the other places and end the Odyssey on a good note. The next two days was just a ride past some scenic valleys, passing Shimla via Chahal and Kanda valley. Exhilarating as it was, I almost forgot about my shutter-bug and brought it out just in time to capture some unforgettable moments through the journey. On the last day, we headed for Delhi at 8 in the morning. For the first time, all the riders who started the Odyssey returned with their bikes and that too in good health (My vote still goes out to the miracle water – alcohol!)

We rode our hearts out and overcame several obstacles but at the end of each day we knew that the next day would bring something worse. My Standard 350 held fort and apart from a minor electrical failure, I did not face any other problem throughout the journey. On this trip, I made some great friends and even managed to make introverts talk. I returned with some beautiful memories and managed to pick up some phenomenal riding skills from fellow riders as well. However, the most important thing I learnt was that, man can reach great heights and is capable of enjoying the place with his head in the clouds. I was just glad I wasn’t alone at the top.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Digital Media outlook report - 2009

An interesting presentation on Digital Media outlook for year 2009.Few reasons why Internet is still called 5% medium:
  • Almost 60% of advertising campaign's biggest objective is to create 'Brand Awareness' - I firmly believe Digital is not a medium to create awareness... it is medium to drive engagement / interactions.
  • Only 9% of advertisers wants to engage their audience - A reason for big No-No to Digital!
  • Perception of medium is another problem... None of the vertical has clear idea about the know-how of medium. A big opportunity evangelists - teach marketers what digital is!
  • Is mobile the next big thing? - answer is We don't know. I think industry is still waiting for a successful marketing campaign on mobile to be used as case study.
  • Measurement Metrices - is it really helping? or it exposes something more than what it should!
Webchutney Digital Media Outlook Report 2009

Thursday, March 18, 2010

After all, We are Gujju Bhai!!

Just imagine… you are a director of a movie. Your first scene is that of an early morning in a town of Gujarat. Now tell me, what would you select as opening shot of this movie? Well, if you are Gujju, you are probably right! You will certainly be standing at a road side 'tea and farsaan' centre with your camera and shooting steaming hot, boiling tea. People ordering 500 gms Ganthiya and eating ‘em with same amount of chutney with an expression of extreme orgasms on their face. Yes, this is Gujarat… and After all, we are Gujju Bhai!
There is this saying in Gujarati… ‘Patel, Hotel and Motel… You’ll find these three at any corner of the world’. And mind you, this is not false. Our one and only hobby is to earn money. Yes, we are money minded and that’s why Gujarat is also called land of Entrepreneurs! If you ask any Gujju Collegian about his future plans, he’ll say “mare to amerika javu che ne millionaire thavu che!” means – I want to settle down in US and become millionaire. (After all, 1 $ equals 50 Rs. boss!) Its matter of concern if no one in your family is in USA… Nobody marries their daughter in a family which doesn’t have any foreign connection. After all, we are Gujju Bhai!
Gujjus love to speak English. Even though they don’t know it… I have seen people who without any reason try to speak English and end up speaking Engrati (English + Gujarati)! In Gujarat, it is considered that – ‘It’s ok if you don’t know pure Gujarati… But you must know bad English at least’!! After all, at least 3 of our Kakas, Kakis, Mamas, Mamis live in Amerika! Tune to any radio station in Gujarat and try listening to any RJ for 5 minutes… I challenge, you’ll probably run to radio station and offer English literature tuitions for throw away price. After all, we are Gujju Bhai!
It’t not just about Amerika or English… We love foreign food too! (Prepared as per Gujju recipe and comfortably adjusted its taste as we Gujjus like it). If an Italian eats our Italian Pizza or a Chinese tastes our Chinese bhel… I’m sure he’ll faint with an attack! Few hybrid items that we have freely adopted as per our choice: Chinese Samosa, Farali Pizza, Jain Sizzler, Jain Omlette and what not! We love butter, we love oil and most importantly, we love cheese. No wonders… be it Vadapau, dosa or Dhokla… is available with cheese at all food joints. And ya, cheese must be Amul cheese in any case. Because, cheese to Amul nu j hoy ne! After all, we are Gujju Bhai!
We love going out. We love travelling. And yes, while travelling, we always carry a bag which is always kept handy and always taken utmost care of. This bag is full of Theplas, Chunda, Chevda, Mamra, Pickles, Ganthiya, Puri, Sakkar Para, Batata nu Shak, Khakhra and at least 3 types of mukhvas. Within 15 minutes of starting train or bus, youngest member of family will ask his/her mom… ‘Mammi, pela Thepla kya mukya che?’ (Mom, where have you kept those theplas?) And in next 15 minutes, whole family will eat ALL of above items one by one as if they are having last food of their life. After all, we are Gujju Bhai!
Well, I can write a lot about food… but let’s leave that topic here. Let’s discuss drinking habits of Gujju. Ahem ahem, who said ‘But Gujarat is dry state’? Boss, ketli bottle joiye?? (how many bottles you need?) All Gujjus feel proud in drinking. It’s like matter of proving to the world that we also CAN drink. All Gujjus have personal bootleggers who deliver liquor at home. And after drink, all Gujju says, “Aapdu ekdum control ma j hoy ho bapu!!” (I’m always in control!) After all, we are Gujju Bhai!
Who says Gujjus are not intellectuals? Go to any Paanwala and network with intellectual minds out there. They are think tanks of India. They know who should be playing in Indian cricket team. They knows what Obama should do to counter terrorism. They also knows why Katrina Kaif should not marry Salman khan. We can spend atleast 3 hours discussing about nothing at any paanwala. Irrespective of whether we know the person whom we are talking to or don’t. After all, we are Gujju Bhai!
Stock market is our favorite time pass and major source of income too. In my family, my nephew learned how to interpret stock price tickers on CNBC at age of 6 years! All Gujjus feel sense of pride while talking about Harshad Mehta or Ketan Parekh. A chaiwala outside any office is expert of stock market and probably can give you better advise than Rakesh Jhunjhunwala. Yes, we know stock market Bijnesh. After all, we are Gujju Bhai!
The passion of Gujjus for money, the undying spirit and most importantly, the what-goes-of-my-father-attitude gives us thrust of earning money. Entrepreneurship is in blood of all Gujjus. We are optimistic, we are fururistic and we always calculate money before doing anything. We don’t give a damn to anything. That's why Gujjus are so prosperous and Gujarat is called land of opportunities. After all, we are Gujju Bhai!